Friday, May 25, 2007

The Doctor Is In...Stores, That Is, On August 14th!
Doctor Strange, Marvel Comics’ perennial Sorcerer Supreme, is getting a direct-to-DVD, direct-to-Blu-ray release on August 14, 2007. The movie is the last of the four movies Marvel Comics allowed to be based on their popular characters.

Doctor Strange was created in 1963 by Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Stan Lee literally gave birth to the Marvel Comics line in 1963 when he brought out The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, The Mighty Thor, Daredevil, and The X-Men.

Richly imagined by Steve Ditko, the worlds of Doctor Strange drew readers into mysterious and dangerous places filled with action and magic. He gave the world Baron Mordo, Dormammu, the Mindless Ones, Nightmare, and Mephisto. The weird dimensions Doctor Strange wandered through often felt like Dutch artist M. C. Escher, with stairways and roads that led to impossible places.

Doctor Strange started out as Doctor Stephen Vincent Strange, a gifted surgeon with a definite God complex and arrogant beyond belief. Then he ended up have a tragic car accident that left him permanently disabled and never able to perform surgery again.

Strange ended up homeless and alone. The good life he’d been living slipped right through his palsied fingers and he found himself living on the streets. But he pursued every opportunity he could think of to correct his physical disability. Nothing worked.

After exhausting conventional wisdom regarding healing himself, Strange journeyed to the Himalayas to find a cure that might be possessed by a man known only as the Ancient One. Instead of aiding him, though, the Ancient One offers to train Strange in the magical arts. Strange doesn’t want to be trained as a sorcerer, though. On his way out he discovers Baron Mordo plans to kill the Ancient One and take his magical secrets.

Strange can’t let the assassination plans go through and tries to stand against Mordo. But the evil Mordo binds Strange magically. Having no other choice, Strange agrees to be trained in the magical arts. The Ancient One reveals that he’s known of Mordo’s treachery and frees Strange. Then training begins and all the strange worlds, quests, and dangers pull Doctor Strange into them. Fans got to see how Strange used the All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto and the Cloak of Levitation that looked so distinctive the way Ditko drew it. Furthermore, they got to see him practice astral projection at a time when most people had not heard of that.

The 1963 run of comics began in an anthology comic called Strange Tales. The first story was in issue #110. As of #169, the comic got renamed after its lead hero, Dr. Strange. After the initial run was complete with #181, Dr. Strange languished in limbo for a few years before being resurrected in the pages of Marvel Premiere. In 1974, he got his own comic again, as well as his first #1 issue.

Since the end of that run in 1987, Dr. Strange has been in and out of comics in limited series and guest star spots. He’s one of the most unique characters ever turned out by Marvel Comics.

A television movie starring Peter Hooten was made in 1978. The success of The Incredible Hulk on CBS convinced television executives another superhero series could work. Unfortunately those producers created a pilot movie that Stan Lee disavowed as being too campy. The pilot never went anywhere.

Dr. Strange is one of the main characters in the video game, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, and had been in previous Spider-Man games.

In 2006, Lions Gate Home Video began producing the four Marvel direct-to-DVD movies. The first two were Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2, followed early in 2007 by The Invincible Iron Man.

Marvel Comics has posted a website supporting the DVD movie that provides a trailer and information on Dr. Strange. (

According to the news releases, Dr. Strange is getting an upgrade and reinterpretation in the movie while honoring the roots of the character. Although Dr. Strange received martial arts training after he became an sorcerer in the comics, in the movie he learns it at the same time as he learns magic.

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